Have You Played… Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Not only did it allow you to throw your lightsaber across the room and electrocute a bunch of imbecile Stormtroopers until they fell into a big hole, it also spawned one of the most satisfying stories ever written about a videogame. Well done, Jedi Knight II.

It was also pretty forward-thinking. Where other Star Wars games were about tackling AT-ATs with a cable or plodding around Tatooine doing the most mundane fetch quests imaginable, the Jedi Knight series honed in the thing people actually wanted to be: a bloomin’ Jedi, of course.

The powers of hand ‘leccy, mind control, force push and force choke are pretty much standard fare in any power fantasy game today, often given other names to disguise their true Lucasness. What are Corvo Attano and Emily Kaldwin if not steampunky Jedis? Obviously, there’s huge differences, and a litany of prior influences. But remember how fun it was to fling a Stormtrooper halfway across the room with a flick of the mouse hand? Don’t try to tell me that wasn’t influential.

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42 Comments

  1. kalirion says:

    I never got a handle of the light saber combat in this one, which makes me wary of trying Jedi Academy.

    • JKing says:

      Jedi Academy actually kind of has less lightsabre combat—kind of. There’s more enemies with lightsabres, but they tend not to be nearly as challenging. Plus, if you play as a female Jedi you get to listen to Jennifer Hale’s voice throughout. Totally worth it.

    • amcathlan says:

      The melee combat mechanics in both JK2:JO and Academy was a little unintuitive to begin with, but if the idea of lightsaber combat with a convincing physical component appeals to you at all, I heartily recommend you give one or both of them another try.
      It’ll get natural to you, and you’ll feel pretty damn Jedi Master-y by the end of it.

  2. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    I always appreciated the ideas in this game (as well as Academy) and the FPS part was quite good; but the Quake 3 engine was *atrocious* for third person controls, and even worse for melee combat, which ruined the experience.

  3. Shinard says:

    Thank you for the story link. I’d never read that one before, and you’re not wrong – it’s incredibly satisfying.

    • Aetylus says:

      As someone who has never played the game, I’m happy the game exists just for the sake of that story.

    • iucounu says:

      That is, I think, regarded as one of the first important bits of New Games Journalism ((c) KG and cited in his manifesto) and thus a reason that RPS exists at all.

  4. Bull0 says:

    Hey, it’s taken me the best part of 15 years to realise that the logo has “J K” in it.

  5. theblazeuk says:

    Running up a wall, flipping off it and then rolling across a platform to slice a Reborn sith in half… Yes please. This game was amazing and worked better than Jedi Academy in many ways, though JA refined and expanded things it was all a little bland (other than the railway heist mission).

    So much fun to be had opening the console and summoning a horde of dark jedi, maybe a friend or two to help you, and then turning the AI back on. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

    • wishinghand says:

      The deep canyon mission in Jedi Academy is always what stuck out to me, since it’s almost exclusively dark jedi enemies. Also the one on Nar Shadaa with the mutated rancor.

  6. Laurentius says:

    Played a demo first (games have demos back!) it was awsome! Main game, where is my lightsabre? So, as I was never into shooter, I’ve never beat JKII, depsite many, many retries during the course of these years. Jedi Academy though, love this game from the first sight, lightsabre from start, customizable pc, replay this classic every couple of years, still holds up. Raven Software seemed so cool back then, now relagated to CoD games…

    • theblazeuk says:

      It is about 1/2 hour to get the sabre I believe.

      • Canadave says:

        Nah, it’s quite a while. You have to go through the whole underground Imperial base with the annoying light\walkways puzzle in the middle, which probably took at least an hour. And then after that, there’s the fairly long mission on the mining planet that ends with the big fight involving AT-STs in the canyon at the end. All told, I think it was probably 3-4 hours to finish those two missions.

        • theblazeuk says:

          I appear to have blanked that memory in light sabre fever

        • dashausdiefrau says:

          And what about the smugglers planet? I can’t remember if the saber was available by then, but that stupid platforming… If there was one thing wrong with the game it was jumping: floaty and inaccurate.

          • Zekiel says:

            I don’t think you had the sabre in the smugglers’ planet. (You did have force powers by that point though I think.) And the first person platforming there was REALLY annoying.

  7. Stone_Crow says:

    Best lightsaber combat of any SW game I’ve played. Had a nice multiplayer scene as well back in the day (might still for all I know). Good times.

  8. Marcus_Cardigan says:

    It was a good game, but I hated the start with no lightsaber.

    Tactic used: Push, Pull, Slash

    You could run on wall

    There is a scene were you fight with Luke Skywalker

    And of course Dessan

  9. buzzmong says:

    This was a good game, it was however elevated to greatness by the following console command:
    g_sabrerealisticcombat 3

    It does what it says on the tin, and makes the lightsabre the deadly weapon it is in the films. Limbs getting sliced and diced all over the shop.
    It also applied to all lightsabres, so the Sith you fight against are just as deadly.

    Glorious!

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      Yeah, that cheat is what made every fight different and varied. It took quite a while before I was able to get it working on Jedi Academy, but Jedi Outcast is better in many ways and one of the best Star Wars games, or simply one of the best games, ever.

      My parents would sometimes give me nervous looks when I laughed viciously after accomplishing a stylish beheading of a Reborn while mid-air (I sometimes laughed that way just to mess with them :P). The guns were very fun too, especially liked blasting stormtroopers with the purple “shockwave orb” alternative fire mode.

    • MOOncalF says:

      This! A classic game I regularly load up again to swear my way through to the light sabrey bits – then to turn on sabre realism and fight the best duels I’ve yet seen in a Star Wars game. So exciting to face opponents (especially multiple opponents) where the first strike wins.

  10. muki0 says:

    I played a ton of this in multiplayer. There was (for the time) a quite high skill cap with the stuff you could do involding switching saber stances mid fight, the physics, taking advantage of the “backstab” moves. Then the devs nerfed some of the more OP moves to make multiplayer more accessible for new players, so the clan/server I was part of stayed on the old patch. Good times.

  11. MrRoivas says:

    Jedi Academy was better.

  12. Det. Bullock says:

    I LOVE this game, it doesn’t have a dark side ending but still I love the lightsaber combat, especially with the realistic mode on.

  13. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    I’m that guy who skipped both Dark Forces and JK2, but spent a lot of time in the original Jedi Knight, playing my own lightsaber duels and bonkers deathmatches on the old Microsoft Gaming Zone with my blazing fast ISDN connection.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Same here. I used to spend hours just hanging out in the Jedi Knight rooms. It was the only game I ever joined a guild for.

  14. CartonofMilk says:

    didn’t but jedi academy was so good. Everytime i played it after the first time i told myself i’d go jedi this time but who could resist the sith powers, all the fun to be had was in the sith powers. So i always ended up going full sith. that’s fine anyway, in games i love to be evil. Especially if i get to be OP compared to every NPC. It’s cathartic. Telekinetically throwing troopers down pits and floors never got old. Even better when they were siths or jedis, oh you think you’re strong with the force? Check me out. Made you feel like a real Darth vader. some of the better ones could resist it but if you insisted it usually ended up working. i want that mechanic to come back in a game. A quick push of the mouse and you’d send them into walls and ceilings. Rarely seen such a satisfying gameplay mechanic.

  15. Barberetti says:

    Yep. One of the best FPS ever, and the only game that’s come close to making me feel like a Jedi.

    I remember writing a script (thankyou id tech 3) which toggled my key binds between weapons and force powers depending on whether or not I was using my lightsabre, which was purple. Fuck you Windu, I was first!

  16. Premium User Badge

    yhancik says:

    I have, but only in multiplayer. While listening to Orbital’s The Middle of Nowhere, usually.

  17. MisterFurious says:

    One of my favorite video game moments was playing this game and going into a small room and looking out a window and seeing a hangar full of stormtroopers and thinking “Oh, shit! How the hell am I going to get through this?!” and then looking down and seeing a button and thinking “What does this do?”. I pressed the button and scores of stormtroopers got sucked out into the vacuum of space. It was glorious. Force choking people and dropping them off of ledges or into fans still remains my favorite combat move in any video game. Whenever this game and Jedi Academy go on sale, I think of rebuying them but then I decide not to out of fear that they won’t live up to my memories.

  18. takfar says:

    Oh hell yes, I’ve played this. A LOT. Even the spiritual predecessor (Hexen 2) was already great for me, a total break from the usual FPS experience.

    JK2 took all the flowing melee combat, added the star wars license (I was already a fan of Dark Forces) and made it even better. Shooting, slashing, force powers. Add in the “realistic saber combat” cheat code and it’s some of the most fun sandboxy combat ever in videogames.

    Definitely in my top 10 of all time. Hail, JK2.

  19. UnholySmoke says:

    This game was killer. Couple of SPOILERS while I nostalge:

    The Yavin canyon/jungle level near the end was a bit frustrating, with the green troopers and miniscule holes to find your way through…but then arriving at the Temple, fighting your way through, helping out the youngsters and slashing up the dark Jedi. Just, a beautiful bit of gaming. I’d routinely just load up that level and go from there until the end.

    Did anyone else ever stand still and watch while a dark Jedi whirled his sabre and talked smack for a minute, then mercilessly throat choke him, whip the mouse sideways and throw him to his death, like Indy shooting the swordsman? Never got old.

  20. fwfulton says:

    I would be willing to sacrifice 72 Virgins, if they just recompiled it for today’s hardware, just imagine how fun that would be!

  21. ansionnach says:

    Didn’t like this one. Couldn’t get past the opening levels full of stormtroopers running around like Quake bots. Didn’t feel like Star Wars.

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